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Setting the record straight…

Saint Thomas Aquinas and the Immaculate Conception

The theological authority of St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) is unsurpassed in the Catholic Church. He is the Universal Doctor of the Church. He is the patron saint of theologians, philosophers, academics, and of Catholic schools. His great learning and understanding were matched only by his radiant virtue, especially his chastity, and for this reason he is also honored with the title of Angelic Doctor.

Nevertheless, it is not uncommon to find in our day, especially on the internet, people who treat the sacred teachings of the Universal Doctor as little more than glorified opinions devoid of genuine authority. Such people, who themselves could perhaps not pass a single exam in dogmatic theology, tend to dismiss quickly any teaching of St. Thomas that does not suit them on the grounds that, well, “St. Thomas was wrong on the Immaculate Conception!”

This has become a popular “one-size-fits-all” means for people to neutralize the unsurpassed authority of the Doctor of Doctors, a remark that ultimately serves as a carte blanche to dissent from Aquinas on any theological matter one pleases. “Possibly the briefest way to deal with such nonsense”, one sedevacantist advises, “is to ask the armchair expert if they could kindly explain what St Thomas DID teach on this doctrine. Embarrassing silence is the usual response” (“St. Thomas Aquinas’s position on the Immaculate Conception”).

It is time we examined this accusation a bit more closely: Is it really true? Did St. Thomas Aquinas deny the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, defined as a dogma ex cathedra by Pope Pius IX in 1854?

To answer this question, we direct our readers’ attention to an article that explains exactly what St. Thomas did and did not hold concerning the Immaculate Conception:

As the Dominican author explains, there are nine different ways in which one can understand the term “immaculate conception.” St. Thomas denied the first eight of these meanings, and concerning the ninth one he did not speak at all. It was, however, the immaculate conception in the ninth sense that was defined as dogma by Pius IX. In other words, Aquinas only denied all erroneous definitions of “immaculate conception” and simply never considered as a possibility the one that was eventually proclaimed a dogma.

The theological crux of the issue was maintaining the dogma that our Lord Jesus Christ redeemed everyone, including the Blessed Mother, while at the same time affirming her complete sinlessness. If the Mother of God was entirely free from sin, how then did she need a Redeemer? “My soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour” (Lk 1:46-47; cf. Rom 5:12). In 1661, Pope Alexander VII formulated the answer: “…her soul, from the first instant of its creation and infusion into her body, was preserved immune by a special grace and privilege of God from the stain of original sin, in view of the merits of her Son, Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of our human race…” (Apostolic Constitution Sollicitudo Omnium Ecclesiarum; Denz. 1100).

On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX made the infallible proclamation:

We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.

(Pope Pius IX, Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus)

St. Thomas did not deny what was defined thus. As Fr. Lumbreras demonstrates in the article linked above, the Angelic Doctor affirmed the very principles that ultimately led to the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception. To say that Aquinas “was wrong on the Immaculate Conception” is thus a half-truth at best, and it must certainly never be used either to question the Universal Doctor’s credibility or to dispute his authority.

The following papal documents underscore and reiterate the status of St. Thomas Aquinas as the Church’s greatest theological teacher:

The teaching of the Angelic Doctor is also the perfect antidote to Modernism. While paying lipservice to him, today’s Modernists pervert and undermine St. Thomas’ thought in their ressourcement theology. As Pope Pius XI counseled:

…[I]f we are to avoid the errors which are the source and fountain-head of all the miseries of our time, the teaching of Aquinas must be adhered to more religiously than ever. For Thomas refutes the theories propounded by Modernists in every sphere, in philosophy, by protecting, as We have reminded you, the force and power of the human mind and by demonstrating the existence of God by the most cogent arguments; in dogmatic theology, by distinguishing the supernatural from the natural order and explaining the reasons for belief and the dogmas themselves; in theology, by showing that the articles of faith are not based upon mere opinion but upon truth and therefore cannot possibly change; in exegesis, by transmitting the true conception of divine inspiration; in the science of morals, in sociology and law, by laying down sound principles of legal and social, commutative and distributive, justice and explaining the relations between justice and charity; in the theory of asceticism, by his precepts concerning the perfection of the Christian life and his confutation of the enemies of the religious orders in his own day. Lastly, against the much vaunted liberty of the human reason and its independence in regard to God he asserts the rights of primary Truth and the authority over us of the Supreme Master. It is therefore clear why Modernists are so amply justified in fearing no Doctor of the Church so much as Thomas Aquinas.

(Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Studiorum Ducem, n. 27)

It is no wonder that “Pope” Francis recently railed against “decadent scholasticism”, which he carefully distinguished, of course, from the “real” St. Thomas.

During his lifetime, Aquinas produced an abundance of theological and philosophical writings. Here is a small selection in English translation:

For online access to countless scanned articles about Thomistic doctrine (and much more), we recommend The Catholic Archive.

A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. May this little post help to increase genuine knowledge and dispel ignorance.

Image source: composite with elements from Wikimedia Commons
Licenses: public domain

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55 Responses to “Saint Thomas Aquinas and the Immaculate Conception”

  1. Pedro

    Bravo for St. Thomas Aquinas! May he intercede for us, whose poor knowledge requires much more education so that we might bring other souls to the True Faith.

  2. sharbel23

    Great article, thankyou.
    The modernists show time and time again that they are simply not interested in the truth, but want to hear what supports their fancy.

    “For there shall be a time, when they will not
    endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will
    heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables.”
    2Tim 4:3-4

  3. George

    Did Thomas deny the Immaculate Conception? Yes.

    Summa Theologica Part 3, Q. 27, A. 2:
    Reply to Objection 2. If the soul of the Blessed Virgin had never incurred the stain of original sin, this would be derogatory to the dignity of Christ, by reason of His being the universal Saviour of all. Consequently after Christ, who, as the universal Saviour of all, needed not to be saved, the purity of the Blessed Virgin holds the highest place. For Christ did not contract original sin in any way whatever, but was holy in His very Conception, according to Luke 1:35: “The Holy which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.” But the Blessed Virgin did indeed contract original sin, but was cleansed therefrom before her birth from the womb. [emphasis added]

      • George

        NOW, I read that article about a year ago at the Catholic Archive. I remember asking myself after I read it, “Is it me, or is this guy denying the Immaculate Conception?” That’s how bad I thought it was. But I didn’t dwell more on it, because I didn’t think there was anyone that would take his thesis seriously. I was wrong, I guess.

        But having now read it again, I can confidently assert that Fr. Lumbreras’ article is nothing but an impious piece of trash and an insult to the Immaculate Queen of Heaven.

        You want proof?

        Page 261: “The only way of saving the dogma is the ninth and last way. We have to conceive the union of the soul [That’s the soul of the Virgin.] with the corrupted body [That’s the body of the Virgin, folks!] as previous, with a priority of nature, to the sanctification of the soul.” And it gets worse, “Thus we have a corrupted body, as it is the body of this person; and we have a soul, which being the soul of this person, has to be corrupted by the body. We have thus, and thus only, a person who has to incur original sin, who has to be redeemed with personal redemption.”

        And this is how, according Fr. Lumbreras, the Church would have us understand the dogma. Yikes.

        It seems, for Fr. Lumbreras, that the Immaculate Conception was really two actions that happened simultaneously: the conception itself and the sanctification of the that which was conceived (in sin). He, therefore, dares to suggest that the Virgin’s Conception was not Immaculate per se, but only per accidens, i.e., insofar as it was simultaneously sanctified by the grace of God. In other words, the Immaculate Conception is somewhat of an imprecise term that refers to the time of the action, not to the action itself.

        Even the use of the term “sanctification” is completely inappropriate. Saint Thomas in the same Article of the Summa I cited above writes, “the sanctification of which we are speaking, is nothing but the cleansing from original sin:” So, sanctification implies original sin. Of course, Our Lady didn’t need to be cleansed or sanctified, for her Conception was per se Immaculate.

        • Michael S


          What is the process of conception? At what point is the soul created vs. the body? & At what point is this union made between soul and body. Is one created before the other?

          It follows… assuming you know the answer to the above then… Is original sin contracted by the soul via the flesh? Since we all are made up of the corrupted flesh of Adam? If this is the case then how is the above quotation blasphemous?

          If this is NOT the case… then please elaborate as to the Church’s teaching on the above.

          • George

            I considered it impious because the author suggested that Our Lady’s Conception was not per se Immaculate, but only accidently so. The truth is that the Blessed Virgin’s Conception was in its very essence a stupendous and unique miracle, perfectly pure and having no need of further purification and cleansing. The author, however, impiously argues to the contrary in order to defend the thesis that Saint Thomas never denied the Immaculate Conception, a thesis refuted by the express words of Thomas himself.

          • Michael S

            First: You didn’t answer a single qualifying question about the conception process… why not?

            Second: You didn’t bother to elaborate on what the Church teaches.

            Third: You condemn the author for suggesting “that Our Lady’s Conception was not per se Immaculate…” but did he really say this or are you putting words in his mouth? I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed… but I didn’t read the author saying “it wasn’t really immaculate… just an accident.” maybe you can point it out a little more clearly… like for a child.. but before you do, I know you probably want to skip to this part, but try answering the qualifiers above so everyone is on the same page. Maybe we all don’t all have a clear picture here.

            Here’s your opportunity to set us all straight.

          • George


            Your qualifying question on the process of conception is important, but not really relevant to the point I’m trying to make right now. Therefore, I’m going to set it aside in order to make things as simple as possible.
            Below is the dogmatic declaration of Pius IX on the Immaculate Conception, in which I’m going to insert in brackets the single word I believe Fr. Lumbreras would have to substitute in order to make it conform to his explanation of the dogma:

            “We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved [cleansed] free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.”
            Now you’ve read the paragraph I quoted above from Fr. Lumbreras’ article. It uses some philosophical terms, but I think you could get the drift of it. Do you not agree that Fr. Lumbreras has, in effect, substituted the word ‘cleansed’ for the word ‘preserved’ in the declaration. . . to the detriment of the essential purity of Our Lady’s Conception?

          • George

            I’ll make one point with regard to the philosophical terms that Fr. Lumbreras uses in his explanation. When he writes, “We have to conceive the union of the soul with the corrupted body as previous, with a priority of nature, to the sanctification of the soul” he means by “priority of nature” only that the union of the Virgin’s soul with the body is prior to the sanctification of the soul, not in time, for the two actions happen simultaneously, according to Lumbreras, but only insofar as it’s logically necessary that the soul must already exist before it can be sanctified, and the soul does not exist until it’s united to the body.

          • Michael S

            I’ll agree that preserved and cleansed do not mean the same thing… do you know the original Latin word used by PPIX by the way?

            “and the soul does not exist until it’s united to the body.” Where is this from? Is this a quote?

            It looks to me less like “impious” work here, but very creative use of time… considering the lack of clarity around when each distinctive part happens exactly.

            According to you above… it looks like you are offended that the he states or implies that body of the Blessed Virgin Mary attains corruption in any way “corrupted body”… as you rightly go to the definition that states “preserved”.

            This is a confusing topic by the way. I’m not being pedantic. But I don’t agree with your assessment of “impious”… in fact I see it as rash and lacking distinction as to the source of original sin in all men and the necessity of Christ for every man’s salvation.

            The definition via PPIX does not state as to whether her body or her soul is the one “preserved” simply “She is preserved…” (paraphrased) But that leaves a lot of questions as to exactly how or what happened. We know the outcome, but not the details. Do you agree? Or have I missed something important?

        • Julia O'Sullivan

          Ok, so……I’m not going to try in the least to be erudite here…..but there IS this strain in Catholicism that Original Sin passes on via the sexual act per se. I happen to reject that, but…..IF that strain was vibrant at the time of The Doctor’s prayer and writing on this subject, it may be that this is what he had in mind. How get around that with anything less than a virgin birth, which of course we know Our Lady did not have? Please forgive me the roughness with which this is laid out, I could write a tome but I’m watching that Supreme Court pick coverage. Call me shallow. 🙂

          • Andrew

            The Thomists teach the authentic doctrine regarding the transmission of original sin. And their doctrine, of course, posits no such influence of the sexual act as having any “positive causation” on the transmission of original sin. The transmission of this sin is exemplified by the relation of the soul to the body. The soul, being the substantial and specific form of the body, constitutes with the body one (and only one) natural unity. Even though the soul does not arise from matter but must be created by God from nothing, nevertheless the soul enters into a natural union with the body that is formed by generation. Since human nature is transmitted, then after Adam’s sin it is deprived of original justice. The soul takes on or incurs original sin because the soul constitutes with the transmitted body one nature.

    • Andrew

      To formulate the question, as you did, regarding the Immaculate Conception against the Angelic Doctor is reckless and intellectually narrow. I would heartily recommend, to any and all readers of NOW, the treatment given by a disciple of St. Thomas, Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., on the relation of St. Thomas to the question of the Immaculate Conception. The appropriate work is entitled “The Mother of Our Savior” and the relevant passages can be found in Chapter 2.

      In addition, and what should prove a remedy to the flippant attitude and disregard for the Common Doctor, it would prove corrective and beneficial to consult the work by the great Dominican Fr. Santiago Ramirez, “The Authority of St. Thomas Aquinas”. This work is inundated with statements and authoritative directives on the authority of St. Thomas in theology and philosophy.

  4. Dum Spiro Spero

    St. Thomas relied on the (mistaken) “biology” of his time, which held that the body is formed only after 40 days. Then God infuses the soul.
    But its principle is correct: there can be no soul, there where the body is not. Summa I, q. 76, a. 3 ad 3

    • Mary Lauer

      Yes, he probably followed that mistaken biology. I don’t follow the idea of no soul, no body, however. Angels and demons possess souls but never had eartly bodies, and purgatorial souls are not yet reunited with their bodies.

  5. Novus Ordo Watch

    St. Thomas believed that the soul does not enter the body until after it is BORN? That’s news to m e! Would you care to substantiate your assertion? Just WHERE does St. Thomas teach such an absurdity?

    Your comment, “Had he lived long enough to hear the 9th one, he might have rejected it too” is gratuitous and impertinent, indicative of the very attitude condemned in the above post.

    The fact that St. Thomas did not believe in ensoulment at conception (but only at animation) did indeed have a lot to do with the biology of the time, but it is irrelevant to the question of abortion as mortally sinful, because it would be mortally sinful either way.

    • Mary Lauer

      You were shouting in caps, and it has a self-righteous tone which is not necessary. Take a breath. We are all Catholics expressing ideas here. Second, the moment of “animation” of a human is obvious to everyone when a baby is born. Before birth, it is not obvious to anyone except the mother herself, who can feel the animation at the earliest point in time, and this varies from mother to mother. Aquinas in his day, had no way of proving animation until a baby is born.

      • Novus Ordo Watch

        I wasn’t shouting, but I understand that the use of all caps can come across this way, so I apologize. I simply meant to stress those words, not shout them. St. Thomas was quite aware that animation occurs before birth, however.

  6. John Ceglarski

    After a morning of watching those lost souls march around O’Hare intl. trying real hard to get muslim terrorists admitted to the U.S.-no questions asked, its really refreshing to come here and find people who care so deeply about Christian theology. Your discussions and the way you get down to the Nitty Gritty stuff is fascinating. And you guys (Mary v Novus) are right, their needs to be a more complex text convention so people can discern between three levels of emphasis so you know if they are yelling or just accenting what they said. Colored text would work good for that. Excellent article, thanks for that.

  7. Andrew

    It’s not true to claim that St. Thomas taught the soul doesn’t enter the body until after it was born. According to the teaching of the Saint, at the moment of conception there is only plant life, and later, when the organism reaches the proper complexity, the plant soul is replaced by an animal soul. Once the organism reaches a further development, the rational soul replaces the animal soul. The more probable view is the rational soul at conception, but the other and older view is still tenable. The destruction of the plant life in the mother’s womb is still forbidden because of what the organism is being prepared for – the abortion question remains unaltered.

    • Mary Lauer

      Plant life, then animal life, then evolving to rational soul eventually? I can almost hear the applause from the prochoice people and evolutionists in support. That gives them all the justication they need to terminate a pregnancy, perform embryonic experiments, sell fetal parts or unplug a sick patient.

      Biblical passages I listed earlier don’t distinguish among souls as being in a plant stage, an animal or human stage by process of evolution. They simply refer to a soul, period.

      The DNA of a human being at conception differs markedly from that of a plant or animal species. It follows that a human soul at conception is created for a specific purpose, with a soon-to-be realized potential far beyond the plant or animal.

      This plant/animal/human stage thesis is outdated and dangerous in our time. Please don’t push it further. Playing with semantics leads others into confusion…a “blob of tissue” mentality. I will not discuss this further.

      • Andrew

        The incompetence of any individual in logical technique has no influence over whether a thesis has objective significance or not. If evolutionists or pro-abortionists see justification for murder in a thesis held by the greatest of all theologians, as well as six centuries of leading commentators, it is not the fault of the defenders of the thesis. Density of mind is hard to overcome, but it’s not an impossibility.

        Biblical passages have to be incorporated into the fabric of sacred theology by the method of sacred theology. I’d be a little more hesitant to lift passages and give their interpretation.The famed theologian Fr. Henri Grenier, possessing a doctorate in philosophy, sacred theology, and canon law, held the thesis regarding the succession of souls as certain. He was a modern theologian and certainly didn’t view the thesis as outdated. There are other theologians and philosophers in modern times that have defended that thesis very well. Of course, it is quite fine to disagree with it. But you should certainly point out that it is held by competent minds.

        The fact that you are bringing in DNA as a piece of evidence for the rational soul demonstrates you are confused on the relation of philosophical psychology and the special sciences. Evidence like this is indirectly subordinated to the truths of philosophical psychology/biology and subjected to it. It’s very dangerous to approach this topic and very easy to fall into error. If you think you can lay out an approach to the subject, I’d be quite pleased to read it.

        As far as semantics is concerned, if you believe I’m guilty of verbalism of some sort or another, please point out where I’ve committed error so I can correct it.

  8. Novus Ordo Watch

    I never claimed that we have to believe that ensoulment happens at animation. Rather, I wanted to know where you got the idea that Aquinas believed that ensoulment does not take place until birth. And I have not yet seen you show that.

  9. Novus Ordo Watch

    But that’s not at all the same as saying that St. Thomas held that animation does not begin until birth. That’s an inference you’re drawing based on an (unjustified) assumption that biology in his day did not know that babies moved inside the womb. St. Thomas would have gotten his data on this from the science of biology, not from personally being present at a birth or personally questioning women about what babies do in their wombs, or, God forbid, touching their abdomens.

    It puzzles me that you would make an assertion like this about what St. Thomas believed regarding animation, based on this reasoning.

    • Mary Lauer

      Even with biology today, no one is sure if a woman with a distended abdomen in the 1st trimester is pregnant! It could be overweight, abdominal ascites, early menopause, cancer, infection or some other cause! Why else do doctors use a pregnancy test after the first missed period? Think, man.

      • Novus Ordo Watch

        You’re not addressing the issue. It’s not about the first trimester. It’s about claiming that St. Thomas held that the soul does not enter the body until birth. That is false and not justified by what you’re saying.

  10. aquinas138

    Just to make sure we’re not talking past each other, I was saying I’m not sure it follows that Aquinas not identifying the moment of ensoulment as the moment of conception leads to his error justifying dissident churches tolerating abortion. The churches that do so probably don’t care a whit for what St. Thomas wrote except to mock him. St. Thomas held abortion was a mortal sin at any stage, even if for differing reasons before animation, so he can’t be claimed as a defender.

  11. George

    Thanks for your support.
    Doctrine trumps philosophy. Philosophy is supposed to conform to doctrine, not the other way around. Therefore, we shouldn’t depend on the interpretations of professional theologians and philosophers in order to understand dogmatic declarations; for the latter are the interpretations, and are to be received by all as final and, for the most part, in no need of further interpretation.

    • Michael S

      This is another half true statement that only makes sense with qualifiers. Yes… doctrine trumps philosophy/theology via what we are commanded to do and believe, BUT doctrine is built upon theology.

      You don’t have to depend on “interpretations of professional theologians” in order to know what to do or what to believe the Church tells us to do or believe… BUT you are NOT free to condemn said “professional theologians” as if you know better. If you don’t want “further interpretation” from the great minds of Holy Mother Church’s Doctors, then don’t study them.

      But trouncing upon theologians with attacks and accusations like “impious” is exactly that… IMPIOUS. And this is modernist style behavior. Heretics do this… from Protestants to Modernists. Same attitude, same behavior. Be careful you are on thin ice.

    • mary_lauer

      George, since we have similar views, can I email you an article I found on Peter Singer? It’s something to take a look at, and I think it illustrates something about the way philosophy is used. I don’t want to post here. Don’t want any more troll attacks. I’m not sure how to do it in Disqus.

    • Andrew

      My suggestion is that both you and hit the theological manuals (in particular the methodology of the sacred science) and spend less time much less time in the combox. To say not to rely on “professional theologians” for the understanding of dogmatic declarations is an incredible statement. Of course, the question is what do you mean by “professional theologian”? If you mean “theologians” as the seventh recognized theological source (loci theologici) of Melchior Cano, O.P. (which have become an element in the very fabric of sacred theology itself), then you are in error. To say dogmatic definitions are their own interpretation and for the most part don’t need additional clarification is contradicted by the entire history of sacred theology. Again, please pick up a theology manual and study it before you post nonsense and lead individuals astray.

      • George

        Instead of assigning everybody homework, why don’t you just defend the passage of Fr. Lumbreras from the charge of impiety? Here is the quote again:

        Page 261: “The only way of saving the dogma is the ninth and last way. We have to conceive the union of the soul with the corrupted body as previous, with a priority of nature, to the sanctification of the soul. Thus we have a corrupted body, as it is the body of this person; and we have a soul, which being the soul of this person, has to be corrupted by the body. We have thus, and thus only, a person who has to incur original sin, who has to be redeemed with personal redemption.”

        Do you think this is a valid interpretation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception as defined by Pius IX? Do you think that Our Lady’s conception involved the union of her soul with a corrupted body? Do you think it involved the corruption of her soul by her corrupt body? If yes, have the courage to say so. If no, then why are you on my case?

        As for the blatantly obvious fact that St. Thomas was wrong on this issue (even though a bunch of big babies in the Order of Preachers had absolutely no intention of ever admitting it), here is more proof, (as if any more is really needed):

        St. Thomas, Summa, Part 3, Q.27, A.2:

        “Reply to Objection 3. Although the Church of Rome does not celebrate the Conception of the Blessed Virgin, yet it tolerates the custom of certain churches that do keep that feast, wherefore this is not to be entirely reprobated. Nevertheless the celebration of this feast does not give us to understand that she was holy in her conception. But since it is not known when she was sanctified, the feast of her Sanctification, rather than the feast of her Conception, is kept on the day of her conception.

        And here is Pope Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus:

        “Now inasmuch as whatever pertains to sacred worship is intimately connected with its object and cannot have either consistency or durability if this object is vague or uncertain, our predecessors, the Roman Pontiffs, therefore, while directing all their efforts toward an increase of the devotion to the conception, made it their aim not only to emphasize the object with the utmost zeal, but also to enunciate the exact doctrine.[6] Definitely and clearly they taught that the feast was held in honor of the conception of the Virgin. They denounced as false and absolutely foreign to the mind of the Church the opinion of those who held and affirmed that it was not the conception of the Virgin but her sanctification that was honored by the Church.

        You see? Can anything be more inescapably true than that St. Thomas’ opinion on this issue has been “denounced as false and absolutely foreign to the mind of the Church”?

        Thomas was a great doctor of the Church and the greatest philosopher ever, but he was not infallible. And where he contradict the teachings of the popes he is not only fallible but wrong; For it’s the teaching of Popes that are the rule of faith, not that of of the theologians, doctors, and philosophers.

        • Eric H

          This debate is above my head, but it’s the first time I’d heard the idea that original sin is contracted by the union of the soul with the corrupted body. Fr. Sylvester Hunter says that original sin is the privation of supernatural grace, and that the body of fallen man is just as it would have been in a state of pure nature, meaning that the body is not corrupt. He says that other theories are admissible but doesn’t go into details. See Outlines of Dogmatic Theology, vol. 2, pp. 361-420.

          • Novus Ordo Watch

            It’s above my head too. This requires a thorough knowledge of the ins and outs of Thomistic philosophy, and I think we may assume that the author, Fr. Lumbreras, probably had a better understanding of that than most people who comment here. Thanks for this link. Great find!

        • Andrew


          From what you’ve written so far, you’re going to need much more than homework to assist you out of the quagmire of ignorance you labor within. Many individuals suffer from the same fundamental error you are perpetuating here: instead of familiarizing yourself with the methodology of sacred theology (and the formal object quo/quod and material object) you immediately want to work on the subject matter of the science without acquainting yourself with the tools by which to work. The questions are loaded and the outcome, if one engages, favors your erroneous conclusion. Why? Simple. Your approach is fundamentally flawed. Essentially, you are like a tennis player entering a tennis match without a racket and then complaining no one wants to play because they could never beat you.

          In addition, to say, ” For it’s the teachings of Popes that are the rule of faith, not those of of the theologians, doctors, and philosophers” demonstrates without a shadow of a doubt you are clueless on what you are speaking about. Any manual of fundamental theology will, in a relatively short time, make clear that you are using checker pieces on a chessboard. Get a general knowledge of the methodology of the sacred science and then you can, maybe, contribute an intelligent critique of a theological article.

          • Nevertheless, I WILL answer your questions tomorrow or Saturday.

  12. Michael S

    You are absolutely right… but wrong at the same time. Don’t take this the wrong way. I know you’re all huffed up right now, but I’m hoping that will pass because you make a few good points that a lot of really smart people miss.

    Why you are right:
    1. Brainiac theories and postulations are enough to drive any layman mad… and lay people are not required to know them and many times shouldn’t even be exposed to them.

    2. The propaganda we are bombarded with today makes this kind of theology more dangerous now than ever before due to horrendous liberal policies and modern technology.

    3. We are required to believe what we are commanded to believe by the Church doctrines and that’s it. Period… no fancy theology or mental gymnastics required.

    4. Modernists may use these ideas as excuses to push evil abortion agendas.

    Why you are wrong:
    1. You (not just you) delve into the high minded theology and condemn the greatest theological Dr. in history… the standard of Dr. during the golden age. This is rash and impious. –I do agree that theology can become quite reckless and have
    dangerous outcomes– but neither you nor I have the authority to curb
    theologians from their work and/or condemn the most respected and
    influential theologians in history.

    2. On bible passages. Heretics (Protestants) say the same thing about bible passages. “Everyone who calls upon the Name of the Lord will be saved…” (Rom 10:13). Can’t take that at face value or you’ll be in real trouble. This is why we need the Church and theologians like St. Thomas and all the other great Doctors to teach what scripture means. Otherwise we have sola scriptura all over again.

    3. What we like or dislike, believe or think as individual laymen is absolutely meaningless when it comes to Church teaching and theology. It doesn’t matter what you think… or I think or NOW thinks… if its against what is taught by the Church then its garbage. If you think you know better than St. Thomas… then your thinking is “busted”.

    4. Modernists will have abortions no matter what you do. They’ll use the color of a chinchilla’s eye to make an excuse to have an abortion, or to do any other abomination they feel like in the moment. They don’t need good excuses because they just want to do whatever they want to do. You can’t curb theology because modernists will abuse it. That’s like curbing scripture because you are afraid Protestants will abuse it. They will. And there’s nothing we can do to stop them but pray.

    Pray for the modernists and the protestants to pull their heads out of their heretical backsides and come to the light. Pray for us (especially me) who hold to the True faith to be more charitable to one another and for the resurrection of the papacy and the Church.

    Peace in Christ

  13. Michael S

    It’s a disturbing eye opener to see the number of pseudo-trad’s that are really modernists masquerading as “theologians” with high brow talk… condemning the greatest theologians of history like they’d condemn a football player for missing a pass. Unbelievable!

    Scary just how few Catholics still exist. WOW.

    • George

      So let me get this straight, Michael. Somebody who rejects the notion that the Blessed Virgin Mary actually did, in a certain sense, incur the stain of original sin is a modernist, a pseudo-trad, and a fake Catholic.


      • Michael S

        It wasn’t you George who came right out and condemned St. Thomas Aquinas as “busted” of one of the most celebrated theologians in history.

        However… to condemn the office of “professional theologians” as basically useless is skating on thin ice as I said below.

        Its interesting that you took offence to this statement and completely ignored the two statements below that were direct responses to YOU and your “impious” statements.

  14. Novus Ordo Watch

    Let me just add that Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange has a section on St. Thomas and the Immaculate Conception in his book “The Mother of the Savior”:

    There is also a nice discussion of all the issues in Fr. Joseph de Aldama’s treatise on the Bl. Virgin Mary, part of the Jesuit “Sacrae Theologiae Summa” collection (vol. III-A):

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